Welcome to the website for the FORMSofLABOUR project. Funded by the European Research Council and based at the University of Exeter, the project started in September 2019 and runs until August 2024. It has three strands:

  1. The experience of work
  2. Rethinking women’s work
  3. Work and freedom

Our team comprises Jane Whittle (Principal Investigator), Hannah Robb (Research Fellow),  Taylor Aucoin (Research Fellow) and James Fisher (Research Fellow) at the University of Exeter, and Mark Hailwood (co-investigator) at the University of Bristol. Vivienne Bates in the project administrator. Hannah is working on evidence from early modern church court depositions. Taylor is collecting evidence from quarter sessions courts. James is working on pauper apprenticeships and household accounts. Jane, Mark, Hannah and Taylor are jointly writing a book on The Experience of Work for publication by Cambridge University Press, building the previous research of the Women’s Work in Rural England project. The project’s new archival research focuses on England between 1300 and 1700, but publications and collaborations place this in a comparative European perspective.

We blog about our progress on this site, as well as posting details about upcoming talks, conference papers, events and publications related to the project – so do follow us! You can sign up to receive email alerts of our latest blog posts by clicking the ‘follow’ button on the right hand side of this page, and you can also follow us on twitter – @womensworkexe – where we regularly tweet some of our most interesting (and amusing) archival finds.

For the website of our previous project, ‘Women’s Work in Rural England, 1500-1700′ Court Depositions of South West England, 1500-1700 is a digital edition of 80 fully transcribed depositions relating to 20 cases heard in the church courts and Quarter Sessions between 1556 and 1694 across Devon, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. The original records are held in the Devon Heritage Centre, Hampshire Record Office, Somerset Heritage Centre and Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. These depositions or witness statements relate to a range of crimes and offences tried in these two types of courts, from defamation to theft and are rich in detail of social, economic, political and religious life in early modern England. As manuscript archival sources and written in secretary hand, few of these records are accessible to historians online or in published manuscript form. This digital edition is therefore an extremely valuable resource, providing access to a selection of depositions from the abundance of church court and Quarter Sessions material available in local records offices for the early modern period. It is an essential source for students of the early modern period, and for local and family historians, palaeographers and others with a general interest in early modern society. This digital edition has been prepared as part of the Leverhulme-funded project Women’s Work in Rural England, 1500-1700 undertaken at the University of Exeter between 2013 and 2018.